Hacking cakes with LEDs


A large part of science is making mistakes and learning from them in order to make each subsequent design that much better. When your experimentation involves hacking cakes, each failure is an exercise in deliciousness.

[Craig] and his group of research partners often bake electronics-related cakes whenever part of the team departs in search of other opportunities. Over the years, farewell parties have seen renditions of anything from multimeters to quantum computers. This time around, he wanted to make something that contained actual electronics parts, while still remaining edible.

He settled on making an LED matrix inside of a cake, using silver foil wrapped licorice for wires. In the end however, he found the silver foil to be incredibly difficult to work with, and the matrix ended up being little more than a few randomly blinking LEDs.

Even though things didn’t work out quite how he planned, he is not discouraged. The cake was still quite tasty, and through this process he has discovered edible silver paint, which will undoubtedly make it into the next farewell cake.

Let there be cake – and video games in one package

Encourage your kids to play with their food by making a cake that looks like a toy. The Nintendo DS lookalike houses some electronics to spruce up the presentation. The upper panel is cardboard covered in frosting to tie it in with the edible lower sections. That cardboard panel hides a couple of LEDs that blink thanks to a blinking Christmas light bulb in series with the diodes. There is also an LCD screen backlight in the form of to CCFL bulbs. The screen is just a still image but that’s okay, you can’t expect an actual video screen to be built into this. Take a look at the clip after the break to see the internals.

We’ve looked in on a few other cake hacks in the past. If you missed them before now’s your chance to revisit the gantry-based frosting dispenser and the turn-table frosting injector with silver-orb detailing. These are some sweet hacks!

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CNC cake decorator

The AutoFrost CNC cake decorator is the result of a student project a Olin College of Engineering. [Tara Krishnan] and her classmates designed and built the hardware, as well as a Python interface that is used for drawing the design you want printed in frosting. The X and Y axes are controlled by stepper motors, with manual adjustments for the Z axis. The software has setting for the size of the cake, making it a bit more versatile than the last mechanized decorator we looked at. The GUI also allows for multiple colors which are applied one at a time, with the machine pausing for an operator to switch out the colored frosting container. All in all a nice build, but the next rendition should look to get rid of that second Arduino. We can’t think the code is complex enough to warrant two of them. Check out the demo video after the break.

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Computer aided cake decoration

This contraption lets you decorate your cake at the push of a button. It’s a stretch to call it computer aided as this is purely a mechanical monster, but we still enjoy the apparatus and see its CNC potential (we’re still waiting for that pizza printer to hit the market too). An icing syringe has been modified with a flexible hose on the business end. As constant pressure is applied to the plunger, the nozzle oscillates while the cake rotates. What results is a spirograph drawing on the top of your dessert. But the fun doesn’t stop there. Another push of the button and you get shiny silver orb candies joining in the party.

What, no video? Aw! If you know where to find a clip, let us know and we’ll update this post.

[Thanks Mowcius]